25 June 2014

Ramesh Thakur on the Chutzpah of the Iraq War Neocons and Fellow Travellers

On 25 June 2014 Professor Ramesh Thakur of the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy contributed a piece on the above subject to the Australian Institute of International Affairs’ online journal Australian Outlook.

He begins:

Two years ago, Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu condemned the ‘immorality’ of the Iraq invasion: ‘in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague’. Like the indestructible Terminator, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair popped up recently to deny that the lightning advance of the bloodthirsty and ruthlessly efficient ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, covering the Levant across Iraq and Syria) could be blamed on the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rather, in his parallel universe, the fault lies in not intervening in Syria last year to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

He then goes on to wonder, “Are we to admire Blair for his chutzpah or condemn him for his shamelessness?”.

After traversing the background to this shameful and disastrous War of Choice, its costs and the future prospects for the Middle East he concludes:

Meanwhile the crisis confirms the urgent need for parliamentary consent to be converted from an optional add-on to a legally binding requirement before a democracy goes to war. It should not be possible for a headstrong prime minister to wage war – the most solemn foreign policy decision of all – based on whims or personal convictions.

21 June 2014

Donna Mulhearn on Iraq

Freelance journalist and peace activist – and fellow member of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry – Donna Mulhearn writes in Eureka Street that Iraq needs a local solution, not another Western intervention. She writes of the peaceful protests led by Sunni tribal elders from Anbar Province, and how these protests produced a violent response from the Maliki-led Government. In her view it is Iraq's Sunni tribes and militias — who hold little in common with ISIS and reject its extreme ideology — who could withhold the Islamists' march to Baghdad, should they have the motivation to do so.

Iraq needs a local political solution, she says, not another foreign military intervention, and there can be no moving forward until the mistakes of the past are acknowledged and addressed. This requires political work not just by Iraqi leaders, but by the nations of the 'Coalition of the Willing', who were too quick to jump into the invasion and occupation, and too slow to respond constructively to its disastrous legacy.

Read Donna’s piece in full here.

15 June 2014

Another intervention in Iraq?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expressing a willingness to have elements of the Australian Defence Force join with the United States in another intervention in Iraq – notwithstanding that neither the shape of that intervention nor its objective is known.

I would argue that the fact that we are considering going back into Iraq makes it all the more obvious that we need to learn the lessons from the previous invasion, the disastrous nature of which is not only almost universally acknowledged but demonstrated by the fact that some claim a need to go back in.

There should be no further resort to armed force by Australia until there has been a genuinely independent inquiry (in which the Royal Commissioners are appointed by a bipartisan process). If the Government believes that it should engage in force before the Royal Commission reports, it should be allowed to do so with the support of the House of Representatives PROVIDED that the new use of force is referred to the same Royal Commission and independent legal advice has been received that the use of force would be legal and that the government will accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ in any suit brought by any state questioning the legality of this new use of force.

If we do not learn from the mistakes of the past we will repeat them again - first as tragedy, then as farce.